Matt Levins, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa –
IOWA CITY – The University of Iowa men’s golf team has become one of the elite programs in the nation in Mark Hankins’ seven years at the helm.
The Hawkeyes are competing in the NCAA championships this week at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. It is the third time in four years the Hawkeyes have played in the national tournament, making them one of just 22 teams to do so.
But there is still one piece of the puzzle that is missing, one key cog which will help push the Hawkeyes over the top with one of the top facilities in the nation at Finkbine Golf Course.
Iowa is on the verge of adding that final piece. The Varsity Golf Complex is under construction on the south end of Finkbine and is set to open next February. The complex, which will be used by both the men’s and women’s teams, features two heated hitting bays which open out to the driving range, allowing the players to practice year round in any kind of weather.
The $1.8 million addition is the next big step in taking the Hawkeyes’ programs to an elite level.
“It’s basically categorized as golf complex. The biggest part of that is the indoor to outdoor portion where we’re able to hit from indoor heated to outdoor onto our driving range. It’s also located on the course, so even if it starts raining we can go indoors and practice on a day when maybe we couldn’t before,” said Hankins, a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School. “It’s going to be first class. It’s from raised money that’s come from Hawkeye donors and alumni golfers. Over the past four or five years we’ve been building toward this. We’re not ahead of the curve. There are a lot of Big Ten schools that have this. It definitely helps to put us on the next level and hopefully get a couple Big Ten championships and continue doing what we’re doing at the national level.”
“It’s going to make things a lot easier. As of right now we have to drive down to Riverside to do that and then we putt on our own time that night. If we want to hit balls we have to drive down to Riverside on our own time. By having both of those there we’ll be able to do both of them at the same time. That will be nice,” said Iowa freshman Ian Vandersee.
The facility will feature:
* a 3,500-square foot putting green that can be modified much like a natural grass green;
* a 1,200-square foot performance studio featuring the V-1 video swing analysis system, allowing players to digitally record, analyze and compare their swings to professionals;
* two heated hitting bays which will open to the driving range, enabling up to five golfers to work on full swing mechanics throughout the year;
* men’s and women’s locker rooms, coaches offices and a team lounge that will display the history of Iowa golf;
Hankins said the new facility will be an added attraction for recruiting and puts the Hawkeyes on par with most of the other Big Ten Conference schools which have similar facilities.
“There are four offices for the coaches – men’s and women’s. We’ve also got two locker rooms for the kids and we’ve also got a team lounge. It will be a great home for Hawkeye golf. Men’s and women’s golf will both benefit from it. We’re really looking forward to it,” Hankins said.